The fate of the Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Association will soon be in the hands of the area’s commercial property owners.
City of North Vancouver council voted unanimously Oct. 18 to kick-start a process that could see the BIA’s mandate extended for another eight years.
BIAs are given the authority to charge all the businesses in their area an annual levy, which is collected by the municipality. The businesses then elect a board to decide how the cash will be spent in the interests of the business community.
In the case of the Lower Lonsdale BIA over the last five years, that has been on events like the Shipyards Festival, beautification projects, and marketing of the Shipyards District.
In 2020, the BIA collected $500,000 from 389 commercial properties, which works out to approximately six cents per $1,000 of assessed value, according to a city staff report.
But, to create or extend a mandate for the BIA, the city must first get the approval of the commercial property owners within the area where the levy will be charged. If 50 per cent plus one of the property owners representing more than 50 per cent of the assessed value of the properties petition against the BIA, the proposal will be killed.
Council, however, spoke glowingly of the work done by the Lower Lonsdale BIA and its director Greg Holmes, promoting local business, especially through COVID, and helping to establish the neighbourhood as a destination.
“I think the BIA has been a smashing success,” said Mayor Linda Buchanan. “I think they've done an amazing job. And just seeing what's happening down there – the vibe, the people that come, not just the local residents but those from far and beyond, is fantastic, and it just creates such a great place for the City of North Vancouver.”
Coun. Don Bell said he was critical of the process that originally brought the BIA into being in 2016, but added, “it's worked out.”
“And I think that they've done a remarkable job of promoting the Lower Lonsdale area, and getting the merchants and the different businesses down there co-ordinated. I think it's helped create the success of the Shipyards precinct,” he said.
When the BIA was established in 2016, just over 31 per cent of owners opposed the petition. Coun. Angela Girard questioned whether that number would fall, given the evident success the BIA had shown.
“In my opinion, the BIA has demonstrated that they have provided value and significant support to the businesses in the Lower Lonsdale area, and many of the smaller businesses could not have individually achieved the benefits which they've received as a result of the BIA’s collective efforts,” she said.
The 30-day renewal petition period is expected to start soon.